Blue Thunder helicopter
A mock-up of Blue Thunder, as part back-lot tour of Disney Hollywood Studios, Florida
For the movie SA-341G Gazelles were modified with bolt-on parts and a canopy patterned after the AH-64 Apache. Two helicopters were used in the filming of the movie, one for the actual stunts (a "stunt mule"), one as a backup in case the other was grounded for maintenance. Stunts were flown by Jim Gavin.
The helicopters were purchased by Columbia Pictures and flown to Cinema Air in Carlsbad, California, where they were heavily modified for the film. These alterations made the helicopters so heavy that various tricks had to be employed to make it look fast and agile in the film. For instance, the 360° loop maneuver at the end of the film was carried out by a 1/6-scale radio controlled model.(This aircraft was built and flown by modeller and RC helicopter manufacturer John Simone Jr.
Described in the film as having 1 in (25 mm) "no-lock metal armor", Blue Thunder had a chin turret with an "electric" 20 mm (0.79 in) six-barrel Gatling gun able to deliver 4,000 rounds per minute.Surveillance used twin cheek-mounted Nitesun spotlights, infrared thermograph, and airborne TV camera with 100:1 zoom and night-vision capability. The cameras fed 3⁄4 in (19 mm) videotape, with a locker in the belly of the aircraft. External audio pickups were capable of hearing "a mouse fart at two thousand feet".[ A "whisper mode" granted her the ability to operate in silence. (They resembled sound absorbers used on Jolly Greens in Vietnam.)
Blue Thunder's cannon was controlled by a Harrison helmet in conjunction with a "Harrison Fire Control System" (which is named after one of the special effects prop designers and not an existing fire control system). The project cost was described as US$5 million.
* Helicopter number: N77GH
* Jet turbine engine with boost capability, enabling 360° loops
* Heat sensing infra-red filter for night vision
* Closed circuit TV-camera with a 100:1 zoom-lens
* ¾" code-numbered video-system; the tapes can be erased on signal
* Wide-band scanner
* "Whisper Mode" for silent flights
* Three TV-monitors. The center monitor is connected to a vast array of data-banks
* Twin long-range, high-sensitivity shotgun microphones
* Cabin microphone; records cockpit conversations
* A Harrison helmet-mounted fire control/targeting system
Gazelle Blue Thunder
Crew 2 (pilot & copilot) 2 (pilot & weapons technician)
Passengers 5–6 1-2 (non-crew may use the copilot seat
and/or a seat behind the technician's seat)
Length 49.54 ft (15.1 m)
Height 11.68 ft (3.56 m)
Weight 4,555 lb (2,066 kg) unspecified
Speed 149 mph (240 km/h)
Range 373 mi (600 km)
Ceiling 12,800 ft (3,901 m)
Power (x2) 618 hp (461 kW) unspecified
* The helmet-controlled gun turret and Target Acquisition and Designation System (TADS) was inspired by the AH-64 Apache, which uses an "Integrated Helmet And Display Sight System" (IHADSS), wherein the nose-mounted sensors and the 30 mm chain gun are linked to the gunner's helmet.
* The bolt-on cockpit of the original helicopter used to be visible on the backlot tour of MGM Studios in Florida. It has not been present in the 'bone yard' since at least 2005.